There are many things to do when you find a lost dog and it can be quite challenging during this high-stress situation. Sometimes, finding the owner may just take minutes while other times, it may take days before the lost pet finds their way home.

Below is a quick guide to walk you through this process so the lost dog or cat can stay safe as you accompany them during this stressful moment.


What To Do If You Find A Lost Dog

Homeless looking dog on brick paved streets

The first thing that will happen no matter what is the first contact between you and this strange dog or cat. For this encounter, it is a good idea to approach the animal in a calm slow manner talking to them with the calmest voice you have. It is important to check for some sort of collar to ensure this dog is not a stray who could have rabies and bite you (if they don't have a collar it may be best to call your local animal control agency to be safe).

Some dogs will be incredibly easy and nice coming right up to you and will be happy go lucky. Others can be aggressive and scared which can make it slightly harder to get them to calm down. This can be due to things like anxiety and stress which could have led them to this point.  

If you notice they are acting strange it may be a case that they are injured, if this seemed like a possibility it is a good idea to get them to an animal hospital if the dog will let you.

If you do encounter a dog that is aggressive it is important to not make them feel threatened or cornered. You can help them by kneeling down to seem less dominant but make sure you are not being too vulnerable in case the dog does end up getting aggressive with their actions. If the dog does attack make sure to keep your distance and contact your local animal control office to help with the situation.

After this section, the dog should be under control and either with you off the streets or with animal control who can help get them back home.

Finding Out Who Your New Friend Is

Homeless looking dog on a busy park sidewalk with trees around

The first thing to do once the dog you have just found is calm is to check their collar for multiple things. Their ID tag should include their name and in most situations a phone number on one tag and their vaccination information on another. If there is a phone number call it immediately and the problem could be solved right there.

If the dog does not have tags or the dog has tags that do not have contact information you can take them to your local animal shelter to be scanned for a microchip which could lead you right to the owner.

In some situations, the animal shelter will look after the dog until the owner arrives and in other situations, the dog may need to stay with you until they are found. If your local animal shelter or animal rescue will not keep them and there was no microchip you are now in a situation of being the caretaker of the dog until you figure out where this dog belongs.

How To Care For A Lost Dog

Australian shepherd looking into the distance

If you find a lost pet and there is nothing to help lead them to their owners you may be in a situation where you must care for this dog until it is found. This can be worrisome for some people but it can be super simple and not require much effort. No matter what if the dog is in your care they will have both shelter and safety compared to being lost on the streets.

The easiest and least worrisome rout to go about caring for a lost dog is to find them a spot where they won't do much damage no matter what happens throughout the night. This can be a garage or a bathroom where any dangerous or easily broken objects are cleared out and food and water are provided. If you have dog food already then this should be ok and if you don't there is no need to buy any but rather see if a neighbor will let you borrow some.

It is also nice to give this dog a place to sleep which could be either a dog bed if you have one available or a towel if need be. Either way being in this situation is tons better than being lost on the streets with no one to help them out.

Now you know the basics on what to do if you find a lost dog, just make sure to check the collar and tags as this could make a big ordeal a simple one almost immediately. No matter what the dog will be better off with you helping them find their way home and even giving them shelter if needed. If you have anything to add to this guide feel free to leave a comment and share this article so others can learn what to do if they ever wander across a lost dog.